How to Select the Best Ultrasound Tech Training Program Near Opelika Alabama
Now that you have decided to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Opelika AL, the next step is to begin the procedure of choosing a school. First, you have to find the ideal program that will provide the proper education to become a skilled professional. And given that some states do require that ultrasound techs be either certified or licensed, depending on your residence you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it's extremely important that you investigate each college in order to evaluate and compare your alternatives. But just where does one begin? A number of potential students will start by looking for schools that are within commuting distance of their residences and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost must be considered when making a decision, but there are other significant factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internship programs. These and other qualifiers will be addressed more in detail later in this post. But first, let's go over what a sonogram tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are available.
Ultrasound Tech Occupation Summary
There are several professional titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job function, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Although a number of techs practice as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for example in cardiology and pediatrics. The majority work in Opelika AL clinics, hospitals, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Common daily job tasks of a sonogram technician may include:
- Maintaining records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for use and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Moving patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
- Using equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
- Evaluating results and identifying need for supplemental testing
Ultrasound techs must regularly gauge the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high professional standard and code of conduct as health practitioners. So as to maintain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to enroll in continuing education courses on a regular basis.
Sonogram Technician Degrees Offered
Sonogram technician enrollees have the option to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically involve about 18 months to 2 years to finish dependent on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at as long as four years to finish. Another alternative for those who have already received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have received a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a relevant medical sector, you can enroll in a certificate program that will take just 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to consider is that the majority of ultrasound technician colleges do have a clinical training element as part of their course of study. It often may be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which numerous colleges organize with Opelika AL hospitals and clinics. After you have graduated from any of the degree or certificate programs, you will then need to fulfill the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or whichever state you decide to practice in.
Ultrasound Technology Specialties
Ultrasound technology, or diagnostic sonography, has become more popular for diagnosing internal medical conditions because, unlike other medical imaging tools such as X-rays or CT Scans, ultrasound doesn’t expose the body to radiation. This safer approach has made ultrasound imaging the preferred method for testing pregnant women and infants, who have a higher risk for complications due to radiation. However, babies and expectant mothers are not the only ones who can benefit from ultrasound imaging and it is used in many ways to diagnose illness in the body. Following is a partial list of ultrasound technician education specialties available in the Opelika AL area:
- Musculoskeletal sonographers can create real-time images of joint injuries, assisting orthopedic surgeons and sports physicians in their diagnosis and treatment.
- Abdominal sonographers specialize in generating images of abdominal internal organs and tissues, such as the pancreas, spleen, liver and gallbladder.
- Breast sonographers conduct ultrasound scans using a sound frequency specifically targeted for breast tissue to evaluate tumors and other abnormalities as a method of verifying or contradicting the results of a mammogram.
- Obstetrics/Gynecology sonographers work with women to scan their reproductive organs and assess the development and health of fetuses throughout the pregnancy.
- Echocardiography sonographers are trained in the imaging and evaluation of the heart, its valves and vessels, and the blood flow to and from the heart.
- Vascular technologists are trained to use ultrasound technology to identify damaged areas or blockages in blood vessels, and to gauge the flow of blood through veins and arteries.
- Ophthalmology sonographers conduct diagnostic tests on the eyes and surrounding muscles and tissue.
- Neurosonology sonographers are specially trained to use ultrasound imaging to detect blockages, tumors or abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord.
Online Ultrasound Technician Programs
As earlier discussed, virtually all ultrasound technician colleges have a practical requirement to their programs. So although you can obtain a degree or certificate online, a substantial part of the training will be either held in an on-campus laboratory or at an approved off-campus facility. Practical training can usually be satisfied by means of an internship at a local Opelika ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the balance of the training and classes may be accessed online in your Opelika home. This is especially convenient for those individuals that keep working while obtaining their degrees. In addition online colleges are frequently less expensive than traditional options. Costs for study materials and commuting can be lessened also. But just as with any sonographer school you are considering, verify that the online school you select is accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting agencies is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly crucial for licensing, certification and job placement (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online school could be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Sonography Programs
Now that you have determined which degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, you can initiate the procedure of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You may first want to decide whether you will access classes online or commute to a school campus in the Opelika AL area. Certainly location will be significant if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition undoubtedly will be an important qualification also. But there are other factors that you should also take into account, such as if the programs are accredited and if they provide internships. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can make your ultimate selection, below are several questions that you need ask each sonographer program before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Programs Accredited? The majority of sonogram technician colleges have acquired some form of accreditation, whether regional or national. Nevertheless, it's still crucial to make sure that the program and school are accredited. Among the most highly regarded accrediting organizations in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have undergone a rigorous assessment of their teachers and course materials. If the program is online it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting agencies should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides guaranteeing a quality education, accreditation will also help in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Opelika AL health facilities will only hire graduates of an accredited college for entry level positions.
Are Internships Sponsored? Ask if the ultrasound technician programs you are interested in have relationships with Opelika AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Not only are internships an excellent way to receive hands on experience in a clinical setting, they are additionally a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can assist students and graduates develop professional connections in the Opelika healthcare community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the ultrasound tech schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? For a lot of students, the college they decide on will need to be within driving distance of their Opelika AL residence. Students who have opted to attend classes online naturally will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of concern. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a college that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you might have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges generally charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that don't reside within their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the type of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will undoubtedly prefer a small class size. Smaller classes enable more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the colleges you are reviewing what the typical teacher to student ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your ultimate determination. This will also give you an opportunity to converse with several of the students and instructors to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Does the Program Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the ultrasound tech program you ultimately pick can furnish the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you opt to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Opelika AL area, check that they are offered. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an option and how many credit hours or courses you would have to carry. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Opelika Ultrasound Tech Training
Choosing the ideal sonographer degree or certificate program is a vital first step to entering a rewarding new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound technician schools require that you have earned a high school diploma or a GED. Along with meeting academic requirements, you should be in at least fairly good physical health, able to stand for lengthy durations and able to regularly lift weights of fifty pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machinery. Additional beneficial talents include technical proficiency, the ability to remain levelheaded when confronted by an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this post, there are several questions that you should ask each program you are looking at. This is true whether you select an online degree or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can evaluate each college, you can narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal school for your education. And with the proper training, discipline and determination to succeed, you can reach your goal to practice as an ultrasound technologist in Opelika Alabama.